How a new pair of socks can keep a child in school

Posted on 18/10/2018 by Glenys Phillpot, Chair, Beyond the Bell Warrnambool Local Action Group in General News, News

‘Scrunch, scrape, thud, thunk… scrunch, scrape, thud, thunk.’ That’s the sound of a primary school student walking to school wearing shoes that are 2 sizes too big. They are his father’s shoes. He has outgrown his own and these are the only ones at home that fit him … ‘scrunch, scrape, thud, thunk…’

A local school recently changed its uniform from white to navy socks. The reason? White socks look dirty if you don’t wash them. Navy socks are less noticeable if they’re unwashed. The change means that students who don’t have their socks washed regularly don’t stand out anymore.

They’re just the basic things – socks, shoes, uniforms, toothbrushes – but many children in our community don’t have them.

These anecdotes come from our local community. They are real stories about real children who are struggling with what most of us take for granted – the clothes on their back. Stories like these make you ask:

  • Do these students truly feel a part of their school community?
  • Do they feel ready to make friends and play?
  • And are they ready to learn at the start of the school day?

I don’t think so.

Beyond the Bell’s Warrnambool Local Action Group heard these stories from local schools and felt compelled act. The result? The ‘Donate for the Kids’ initiative; a donation drive that collects new and used school items and delivers them to students and schools in need.

It may seem like we are just giving students a pair of shoes, but a new pair of shoes that fits properly can precipitate a huge change. Shoes can be the difference between running around the schoolyard with your mates feeling connected and sitting on the sidelines, disengaged and embarrassed. Having access to the basics is the first step towards feeling connected, safe and happy at school. Beyond the Bell’s mission is for all children in the Great South Coast to thrive. Having access to these necessities is the first step in our mission.

So how does ‘Donate for the Kids’ work?

  • Each month the Warrnambool Local Action Group partners with one school to develop a list of 5 items for donation. This tailored ‘wish list’ approach means that each school gathers items specific to their needs.
  • A ‘Donate for the Kids’ donation bin is placed in a local organisation each month and staff and community members are asked to donate. Every month a new school is chosen to benefit from the Warrnambool community’s generosity.
  • The items are, at the end of each month, distributed to the chosen school and the children the school already knows need this help the most.

Schools have been overwhelmed with the kindness of the local community and have already reported back that the donations have been thankfully received.

Children are clothed and warm; the first step to being ready to learn!

In October, donation bins are located at Sinclair Wilson, South West TAFE and Deakin University’s Warrnambool campus. We are asking for shoes/sneakers (children’s sizes 12-13 to adult size 10), blue and white checked school dresses, navy tracksuit pants and shorts, navy jumpers and jackets in sizes 4-16.

So how can you help?

  1. Like Beyond the Bell’s Facebook page to see what items are called for donation each month
  2. Visit Sinclair Wilson to drop off your donations in the month of October
  3. Feel glad that you are part of the generous Warrnambool community helping our children to thrive